A CHANGING WORLD
The motorcycle sports discipline of trials was changing as it became used to finding tighter turns and steeper climbs in the hazards, such was the evolution of the sport. Many riders believed the benefits of a small, compact, lightweight two-stroke single cylinder air-cooled machine could give them an advantage in these circumstances. Rival Spanish manufacturers and in particular Bultaco believed the opposite; that a larger capacity machine was what was required. It’s quite interesting to note that when both Kawasaki and Yamaha from Japan entered the trials scene with their prototype machines they would have engines over 300cc.
During the summer of 1971 development rider Pi had started to work on a smaller engine capacity Cota model. They presented the new Cota 123 in March 1972 at the first Three Day Santigosa Trial in Spain as a younger brother for the Cota 247. It carried some very new ideas for a trials motorcycle, with one a very important asset for the rider. Featuring a 123.7cc engine with a six-speed gearbox, the kick-start mechanism allowed the rider to start the engine with the machine still in gear; it was just a case of pull the clutch in and kick-start the engine into life. It was a totally new design, which owed many of its ideas to the road-based Montesa models. With a bore and stroke of 54mm x 54mm it produced a very usable 13bhp @ 7,000rpm and was claimed to be 156lb, which was 42lb less in weight than the 247 Cota. The wheelbase was a very compact 49.6 inches and featured specially commissioned Pirelli tyres of 2.50 x 20 inches at the front with 3.75 x 17 inches at the rear compared to the run-of-themill 2.75 x 21 and 400 x 18 on the larger capacity machines from the other manufacturers. Its most noticeable difference on the exterior was the secondary transmission, which was on the near-side of the machine. A cross-over rear brake mechanism was not required, and also of note was the fact that this was the first Montesa trials machine to adopt the continental style near-side gear lever and off-side brake pedal.
It featured specially commissioned Pirelli tyres of 2.50” x 20” at the front and 3.75” x 17” at the rear. 1973: John Hemingway at the Victory Trial where he gave the new Montesa Cota 123 a run out before the SSDT in May. 1973 SSDT: Watched by Alan...